2013 has been a banner year for social media.
Twitter went public.
Google+ broke 1 billion users.
Vine, Instagram Video and Facebook hashtags hit the scene.
And there were tons of notable social media moments from brands around the world – both epic wins and total fails. As 2013 comes to a close, let’s take a look at some of the best social media success stories of 2013.
Best real-time response: Oreo
Football fans everywhere panicked when the lights went out during Super Bowl XLVII. The game resumed quickly, but one brand took advantage of the 35-minute power outage: Oreo.
The company behind “milk’s favorite cookie” promptly responded with a tweet that read, “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” The simple, spur-of-the-moment tweet got more than 10,000 shares in just an hour – and the execs behind it earned a Clio award and a Cannes Lions nomination.
Best viral video: Dove
In 2004, Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty, starring real women instead of professional models. The goal? To create a world “where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety.”
Dove revamped the campaign this spring with “Real Beauty Sketches,” a video in which a professional artist draws one sketch of women based on descriptions of themselves, and another based on strangers’ descriptions of them. The video showed that women don’t always see their true beauty, and that feel-good message hit home with viewers – the video had more than 114 million views just a month after its release.
Best advertising integration: Foursquare
Many social media networks have tried – and failed – to integrate advertising into their platform. But one company that seems to be getting it right? FourSquare.
The location-sharing network has implemented several successful advertising strategies. It opened up aself-service ad page that allows businesses to input their needs and budget for advertising – FourSquare does the rest. Its partnership with Verizon FiOS and NFL Play shows ads as well as contests and incentives. And the best part? So far, users don’t seem to mind.
Best brand interaction: Oreo and Kit Kat
It’s been a good year for Oreo – the brand makes the list twice for its playful Twitter exchange with snack food competitor Kit Kat.
In March, Kit Kat challenged Oreo to a game of tic-tac-toe to compete for the affections of Laura, a fan who had tweeted at both brands. The clever exchange that followed was a success for both companies, even though neither won the game – they came off as lighthearted, friendly and willing to have a laugh at their own expense.
Best consumer interaction: American Airlines
Airlines aren’t generally known for great customer service, and when they make the news – well, it’s not usually a good thing. American Airlines broke that mold this summer.
An American Airlines traveler (who wrote this piece for HuffPo about his experience) tweeted at the airline that he was concerned about missing his connecting flight because of a delayed plane. American Airlines promptly responded, asking for his flight number. The airline then held his flight so he could make it, keeping him updated on Twitter the whole time. Now that’s customer service.
Best makeover: Myspace
As it turns out, reports of Myspace’s demise came a little too soon. The former social media great remade itself this year as a music-centric networking site – and so far, it’s on track to keep growing.
Backed by pop superstar Justin Timberlake, the new Myspace has a more modern design and a totally new focus: music. It offers built-in music streaming and allows listeners to connect with artists, find new music and communicate with other fans. Only time will tell if Myspace can compete with Facebook and Spotify, but early predictions are positive.
Best cross-platform success: Budweiser
Budweiser’s well-known Clydesdale horses helped the brand hit a home run with their cross-platform Super Bowl advertising.
The television ad, a heartwarming spot about the unbreakable tie between a trainer and his horse, got more than 11 million views on YouTube – a huge success in its own right. But the brand supplemented the ad (and launched its Twitter career) with a contest that allowed users to submit names for their newest Clydesdale foal.
Best use of a new medium: 16 Handles
Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps among millennials– a coveted demographic for advertisers. But until recently, brands seem to have been stumped by the app, which allows users to exchange pictures and videos that are deleted after 1 to 10 seconds.
A few companies are trying to make the most of Snapchat as a platform for marketing. One of the most successful? 16 Handles, a popular frozen yogurt chain. The brand began using Snapchat in January under the name Love16Handles, asking fans to send pictures of themselves at 16 Handles locations. In return, they got promotional coupons. It’s an innovative way to use an app that doesn’t lend itself easily to ads – one that other companies should take note of.
Best use of #hashtags: Starbucks
Hashtags are a great way for brands to reach a larger audience on a variety of social media sites. But they don’t always work out that well – remember the McDonald’s hashtag fiasco?
One brand that successfully uses hashtags across a number of platforms is Starbucks. Searching#strawsome on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram takes you to tons of pictures of creative art done with Starbucks straws. The hashtag #PSL heralded the arrival of everyone’s autumn favorite, the pumpkin spice latte. And #sipface encouraged users to submit selfies with Starbucks drinks. Hashtags proved to be a great way to get users to interact with the brand on social media.
Best turnaround: Wendy’s
A solid third behind McDonald’s and Burger King, Wendy’s has long struggled to find their niche in the fast-food industry. Many years of lackluster advertising and outdated products didn’t exactly help.
But the brand has undergone a huge turnaround in recent months. They have a more modern logo and a new, charismatic face. And they’ve finally started to catch up with a presence in social media. The brand rolled out its new Pretzel Pub Chicken sandwich with a campaign called “#PretzelLoveStories.” In the ads, actors recite tweets about the product in a hilariously dramatic fashion – one YouTube viewer even commented, “I haven’t laughed this hard in forever.”